Atlanta launches third year of youth summer jobs program

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens joins local business owners and city officials for a “signing day” to celebrate the launch of the third annual Summer Youth Employment Program. (Credit: Amanda Andrews / GPB News)

Atlanta business owners and alumni joined Mayor Andre Dickens this week at a kickoff for the Summer Youth Employment Program. This year is the third year the program has been running and offering paid jobs to young people ages 14 to 24.

In the past two years Atlanta officials report $10 million have gone into the program to support wages and stipends. Now, the city is looking for more businesses to step up and hire program participants. Atlanta Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Erica Long said this program is crucial for nurturing students.

“Long gone are the days of taking the summer off,” she said. “We try to keep our young people engaged and doing something productive. Today’s world requires that of our students. APS is proud to partner with the City of Atlanta to offer this excellent opportunity.”

Long said this partnership is designed to build financial independence, work experience, work ethic, and networking skills. The city’s goal is to continue to develop the program to draw students from across the country.

So far over 5,000 students have registered, which is double the amount this time last year. Cassipea Stith is an alumna of the program. She said the program helped her develop professionalism and a network with leaders in the city.

“Now it’s your turn, youth,” Stith said. “The reason why this program centers the youth is because they need young minds to solve the complex problems of our society. You all are the culture. So bring that to your internship this summer.”

All students will make at least $15 an hour during their six weeks of employment. Last year, students worked in 12 different city departments including the mayor’s office.

Dickens said the program deters crime.

“We keep them busy with the summer youth employment program, and they make money so they can buy clothes,” he said. “They can go to the movies,” theme parks and other things teens enjoy — without resorting to “other means to get that money.”

Dickens said there was a significant reduction in youth homicides last year and the city hope to repeat that downward trend this year.

This story comes to Rough Draft via a media partnership with GPB News.

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